By: Mark Hall – Hamilton County Council
Welcome to the Timesheet. This column is a report of work done on behalf of the people of Hamilton County. It’s to be informative too, a place to learn about projects and how our county government works.
As your employee, it’s important to me that you know what is being worked on as transparently as possible in government. You hired me as your County Councilman, and my hope is that you’ll choose to be informed by regularly reading this column, getting involved and by asking questions. Council meetings are at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the judicial center in downtown Noblesville. They are also available to watch online for those unable to attend in person. Here is where my time this past month has been spent.
Month seven is in the rearview mirror. Finances dominate my Council activity with 2024 budget work sessions only weeks away. I received my copy of the Council’s 2024 budget book. It’s hundreds of pages, 27 different chapters and weighs nearly five pounds. The primary job of your County Council is financial oversight for Hamilton County. Reading, re-reading, asking questions, listening, absorbing and reviewing dozens of department budget requests will consume a great deal of time over the next few months. Ultimately, as your representative I’ll work with the six other council members to decide on 2024 tax rates as well as department and county budgets.
This month, our in-person personnel committee meeting was canceled, replaced by a poll of the members for a single position reclassification request. Personnel requests were scheduled to be voted on by the full council at our Aug. 2 meeting. Our highway committee meeting provided updates on existing projects, among other developments, updates included 146th and Allisonville (visit www.streamline146.com for updates) and the Pleasant Street Phase I project. We also reviewed the 2024 highway department budget request summary. Highway projects require council sponsorship. Project details are reviewed in advance, sponsored and then moved to votes at a subsequent full council meeting. This process, along with statutory regulations that govern procurement, are in place to ensure value and multiple checks and balances on behalf of the taxpayers.
In addition to the County Council public meetings, July’s work included attending a Hamilton Southeastern School Board meeting, Cicero, and Noblesville town council public meeting and a planning meeting with Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt.
This past month also included participating in the quarterly Northern Hamilton County planning meetings between the county and Cicero officials as well as meeting with David Giffel, a Fishers town council member, to discuss county and city tax rates, tax distribution and upcoming projects. I had the honor to represent the county at the Blue Door Breakfast hosted by the Boys and Girls Club of Noblesville and at the Bicentennial Pavilion groundbreaking at the fairgrounds. The month included time with State Senator Scott Baldwin discussing property and income tax relief and time with the next Mayor of Westfield, Scott Willis, discussing a wide range of cooperative initiatives between Westfield and Hamilton County.
Of note this month was the continued review and assessment of the County’s health insurance and retiree benefits in the annual review process. This is one of the largest expenses of the county. It’s critical that we get this right. For our retirees, we have the rare opportunity to lower some costs, improve some benefits and save the taxpayers money. Working through the volume of details with the county team and our vendors is tedious, time-consuming and important. While nationally, fully insured health insurance plan costs are increasing 12 percent or more, we are fortunate to have a well-managed self-insured plan with an expected modest annual cost increase to the taxpayers.
This month’s work also included additional meetings regarding what could be a new Multi-Purpose Hamilton County Senior Center. As with any significant project, funding will be challenging. Funding primarily with grants is more so. The project is still in the idea stage and far from a success, but I’m attempting to create a space that can serve several groups of our fellow citizens with as little public money as possible.
This is my time sheet. This is where my time went during month seven. There are quite a few projects in the queue for 2023 and while my job is primarily the financial oversight of the county budget it is important to understand the Board of Commissioners priorities and balance them with the stewardship of taxpayer dollars. That is the job, and I am excited to do the people’s business.
As a taxpayer myself, and listening to so many of you, our employers, it’s important for the taxpayers to have access to all the information you want. I work for you and although you may not choose to do a deep dive into what your County Council does, it’s important that you can always do so. Feel free to contact me at (317) 832-1104 or [email protected] with questions, feedback or if you would like to talk about county business.
– Mark Hall is a successful businessman, husband, father and grandfather. He is serving his first term on the Hamilton County Council.